The Hooke minute book valued by Bonhams at £1m.

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The announcement that this scruffy, 520pp document was expected to sell for something in excess of £1m at Bonhams on March 28 generated a great deal of media coverage and prompted immediate calls from the scientific world for a benefactor and the funding necessary to ensure that this "lost" record of events in a crucial period in the history of scientific advance can be saved for the nation. The competition, however, is likely to be intense

Founded in 1660, the Royal Society was the channel through which hundreds of inventions, experiments and demonstrations by Europe's leading scientists were channelled. Hooke was Curator of Experiments and, from 1677, the society's Secretary.

These are his personal notes of meetings and discussions that took place from 1677-82, together with an extensive transcript of events of earlier years.

Interspersed with sometimes acerbic comments reflecting his grievances against those who ran the Royal Society and occasions on which he feels his own ideas have been plagiarised by others - watch springs used by Huygens, for example - his copious notes also contain much important observation and information that did not find its way into the official, published minutes.

Physicist, chemist, cosmologist, biologist, horologist and mechanic, Hooke has been dubbed 'England's Leonardo' and his achievements are legion. He produced the first major work on microscopy and had a hand in the invention or development of such varied items as the reflecting telescope and the sash-window. He even has the shortest law in physics named after him - ut tensio sic vis, or extension [of a spring] is proportional to force.

Although the two men became bitter rivals, it was to Hooke that Newton first addressed those famous words: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants".